Alfred G. Buckham

Castle Island, Loch Leven (Where Mary Queen of Scots was Imprisoned) (About 1920)

About this artwork

This photograph of Castle Island, where Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned in 1567, shows the vast expanse of the rolling countryside around Loch Leven. The cloudy sky enhances the depth of the image and the small biplanes, which Buckham added later by hand, reinforce the dramatic scale. Buckham was the leading aerial photographer of his day and was renowned for his atmospheric shots of the landscape. He felt that the most spectacular cloud formations and theatrical light could be captured on “stormy days, with bursts of sunshine and occasional showers of rain”. Over the years Buckham amassed a vast collection of photographs of skies which he could integrate with a separate landscape photograph to enhance the drama and create a more impressive composition.

Alfred G. Buckham

Alfred G. Buckham

Alfred Buckham's first ambition was to be a painter, but after seeing Turner's pictures in the National Gallery, he returned home and made a bonfire of his own work. He was the first head of aerial reconnaissance for the Royal Navy in the First World War and later a captain in the Royal Naval Air Service. After crashing nine times he was obliged to undergo a tracheotomy and was discharged as a hundred per cent disabled. Nevertheless, he continued to take aerial photographs with a heavy plate camera, leaning perilously out of the aeroplane, where his delight in picture making greatly increased the risk of accident.